20 years ago this month I was working in an office job in the pharmaceutical industry. It was incredibly stressful and despite 12 hour days I felt I couldn't keep on top of things. I was living in London and commuting three hours a day. I had very little time to exercise or get out into nature. Inevitably, I flipped out and the upshot is I became a self-employed cartoonist.
Ever since that time, I've been prone to bouts of anxiety. This may surprise people who know me, but it is because I organise my life so that I don't have many situations that provoke anxiety.
Recently I went on a trip to Melbourne and found myself feeling more anxious than usual. This inspired me to draw up some of the ways I had to handle it and sparked a miniseries, some of which I’ve put up before. I thought it would be good to collect them all here.
Here we go:
People who read my newsletter will know that I plan every week. Being self-employed, it is easy for tasks to stretch to fill the time available, so unless I can allot time for those tasks, a lot of things will never get done. In this way I can make progress with personal projects (like the book I am working on now, Forget Kids - Get a Dog). I also try to make sure I complete projects ahead of deadlines to give myself some breathing space. And lists! I don’t know how people can deal with busy lives without lists.
Friends are important. And I'm not talking about Facebook friends here. The wine helps too…
I used to do a yoga class and the thing I liked best was the bit at the end where you lie down and focus on your breathing. Partly I enjoyed the meditative effect. Partly I was just happy that the yoga class was over.
I find working in the garden incredibly calming. Except when I go out for 15 minutes and then realise an hour has gone by and I still haven't got any work done.
We so miss Billie and though we get to borrow a dog every now and again I think we're ready to give another dog a permanent home.
Whether it is creating art, or experiencing art.
No matter the weather, walking by a beach (or in the Port Hills. or in a forest) always makes me feel better.
Earlier this year I spent a month without social media. I didn't post to Facebook, or Instagram, or twitter. I found it liberating and resisted coming back to it. Now many of my posts are automatic and I only interact with them when people comment. That said, if you think this post on how to reduce anxiety would be helpful to someone, please share it any way you see fit!